Belfast is a city that I particularly like. It is one of those cities which, like Berlin, has suffered throughout history and over time has become an open-air gallery of murals. The city centre walls have become a huge canvas for urban artists around the world. There is no doubt that the civil war (known as the ‘Troubles’) which shook Northern Ireland from the early 1960s until ‘The 1998 Good Friday peace accords’ was the main reason for this explosion of colour and creations.
If it is urban art that reigns supreme in the centre of Belfast, you can discover hundreds of frescoes in other areas of the city. These have a political character and retrace the dark period of the troubles which opposed Loyalist Protestants and Republican Catholics. This history book painted on the walls of different parts of the city is unique. You absolutely must allow a few hours to discover it.
Northern Ireland history on Belfast’s walls
Belfast still bears the scars of a violent past. Although the political conflict known as “troubles” has ended, there are parts of Belfast where segregation between the Republican community and the Loyalists is still being felt. Old rivalries are tough and hard to forget after decades of violence that claimed the lives of more than 3,500 people. How do you move on when your neighbourhood is covered with frescoes recalling years of violence and suffering? In recent years murals reminiscent of a civil war have begun to be replaced by artworks calling for peace and unity. A beautiful message of hope for the Northern Irish people who so deserve peace.
Even today, what the people of Belfast call “the wall of peace” marks a border between the Republican and Loyalist communities. The doors separating certain districts are still closed at night to prevent any potential confrontation.
Where to go
The Fall Road and Shankill Road frescoes. Allow 4 hours to discover them on foot and using public transport.
There are many guided tours in Belfast to explore the city’s political frescoes.
Map of the political frescoes of Belfast HERE
Street Art in Belfast
The heart of urban art in Belfast is concentrated in the cathedral district. For the past ten years, urban artists and graffiti artists from all over the world have been painting huge frescoes and bringing colours to the walls. Here there is no segregation, the city is full of authentic masterpieces of urban art.
A must see
Some true street art masterpieces from around the city. I really recommend these ones:
– The very symbolic fresco of MTO, representing a young man with red hair planting two arrows in the heart of a dove (one of the arrows represents the Catholic cross and the other the Protestant cross) – To see on Talbot Street facing St. Anne’s Cathedral
– Smug’s fresco “Lobster Pot” urban art hyper realism masterpiece by the famous Australian artist based in Glasgow. On high street
– A colourful portrait of a woman by Aches and Eoin at the top of Kent Street.
– A monumental mural by Christina Angelina representing faces of women on Donegall Street
– The duel by Irish street artist Conor Harrington on Hill Street
– Dan Kitchener’s geisha on Exchange Street
You will also discover artworks by famous artists such as
The Italian female street artist Alice, Nomad Clan, James Earley, Annatomix, Sancho MDN, DANK, …
Walking through the streets of Belfast
Here are the main streets where you will discover urban art. High street court, Hill street, Talbot street, North Street, Lower Garfield street, Kent street, Union street
Belfast printable and interactive street art map:
Here’s a printable map with a street art walk itinerary
Belfast Travel Information:
Transport: Visit Belfast
If you are not on Airbnb yet. Get € 40 off your first trip. Just click on that link HERE
Where to eat and drink in Belfast
- 10 Brilliant Belfast pubs
- Best places to eat in Belfast
- Top 10 Cheap (And Tasty) Places To Eat In Belfast
Art galleries in Belfast
You can get more information or purchase the books by clicking on links or photos
Lonely Planet Pocket Belfast & the Causeway Coast (Travel Guide) MORE INFORMATION
Secret Belfast (Local guides by local people) MORE INFORMATION